There was a big reason that Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby was excited about signing 5'9" Isaiah Thomas, and it had nothing to do with Thomas' basketball skills.
"We finally have someone when we present his jersey I won't look ridiculous in the picture," Babby quipped at the end of the presser (picture above).
Generally, joking about someone's height is taboo. Mean-spirited, even. But on the day Thomas was introduced to the media, both Thomas and the Suns had some fun with it.
"They ain't gonna be too tall," Thomas said of his young sons, who sat in the audience with their mother. "They definitely gonna be guards. (pause) They gonna be mad at me when they get older."
Thomas said this with a big smile on his face - a smile you're going to see a lot over the next four years. And now that he has a home in the NBA that embraces him with open arms, he's going to be even more giddy than usual.
"They brought me in for who I was," Thomas said. "They like me for being 5'9". They like me for being a score first point guard. And that's what I wanted. It's perfect for me with the style of play, the organization the way it is. I just want to be part of something like that."
He's so happy that he doesn't even care that he's not a starter on day one with his new team, despite being one of only six players in the NBA last season who averaged 20+ points and 6+ assists per game. That's it. Just six players did that last year.
"It is important to me," Thomas said of being a starter. "But when it comes down to winning I'll do whatever it takes to win. I want to be on a winning team. I know I have a role. It's a big part of what's going on here. I'm all for it. At the end of the day we're going to play with each other no matter who starts and who comes off the bench it's about winning."
That's a team player right there.
Thomas entered free agency with a chip on his shoulder, the same chip that's been there since he started playing basketball.
"A lot of guys in this League can't average 20 points and 6 assists in this League like I did. I don't want to sound cocky or anything, but that's tough to do. With talented guys around me, I can lead a team to the Playoffs, and I'm going to show people that, I'm going to prove people wrong. I know that being 5-9 that scares a lot of people, because that's not the prototypical starting point guard in the NBA. I'm going to keep fighting, keep working and I'm going to show teams and show people that I am a legitimate starting point guard."
"It's because I'm 5-9. If I was 6-foot, I would be signing for $90 million contract, just like him. Not to put anything on him, he's a great player and he's earned that. But at the same time, I know the politics of the game and I know what I've been through to this point. I'm 5-foot-9 and that's why I was the 60th pick. That's why the Kings keep bringing new guys in. That's the reason why. And I understand and you can't put it past that. If I was 6-foot, I would be a max player. I think a lot of people feel that way, too."
The Suns newest point guard has a lot to prove, and that won't go away now that he's cashed in with a new contract. There's a big difference between $27 million (his Suns contract) and $90 million (what Irving got). Thomas won't even be nearly the highest paid point guard on the team. Dragic already makes more than him, and within 15 months both Bledsoe and Dragic might be making nearly twice what he makes.
And even then, the Suns should still have room to sign a max player next summer if they so choose, to go along with the new "three-headed monster" that is the Suns back court.
In the meantime, the mad scientist in Jeff Hornacek is excited about the possibilities.
"Maybe we got the three-headed monster in the guards," Hornacek said. "There's going to be two of those guys on the court most of the time. Teams are going to have to plan for that and really focus."
And that's how you win a lot of regular season games and make the playoffs with a good seed - by being different than every other team out there and being good at it. The Suns proved last year they can be very effective with a two-point-guard system. Now they're doubling down.
"We are not satisfied," GM Ryan McDonough said of the 48 wins last year. "We want to not only make the playoffs but to advance in the playoffs."